Hartlepool United (h) Totesport.com League Northern Division
25mins Grieve OG 0-1
Coach Alan Thompson told the Chronicle:
"It’s great for the young lads like Phil when first-team players drop down to the reserves – it gives them a hand. They see what the standards are like and how senior pros prepare before games, and not only that but it helps on the pitch.
"That showed last night, and if we can get one or two senior lads in on a little bit more of a regular basis it can bring on the kids. The two senior lads set a great example last night.
"Most of the games we do play are quite entertaining, and we’ve lost games of late when we played as well as we did in the second half last night. It’s just pleasing for the lads that they will see themselves in the paper and the programmes and seeing that they’ve got a result they can be pleased with because they have played well lately but haven’t got the results they deserve.
“Fabrice (Pancrate) did well and also didn’t do himself any harm. You can see why he has played at a decent level for Paris St Germain."
Two goals from teenage striker Phil Airey and
one from Peter Lovenkrands helped United's reserve side to their first victory
in five games on Tuesday evening.
At the other end, Pools threatened Jak Alnwick's goal and almost took advantage of some defensive laxities by the home side, Leon McSweeney somehow hitting the bar from just four yards out after a scramble in the area.
And the visitors took the lead on 25 minutes, when another raid down the right ended with Jonny Rowell centring and unfortunate Newcastle defender Matthew Grieve slicing an attempted clearance into his own net.
The Magpies looked to respond and a deflected free kick from Lovenkrands grazed the Pools woodwork with Ben Tozer in close attendance. Soon after though the Dane had more luck, arriving to fire home Airey's low centre from the right past former Toon academy goalkeeper Mark Cook at the Leazes End.
And the home side almost went in ahead at the break when Kazenga LuaLua wriggled free on the byline close to goal, only for his effort to be cleared by Ben Clark, with Lovenkrands lurking behind him.
An entertaining game continued in similar style in the second half, with Alnwick doing well to deny McSweeney after he found space in the box. Pools took the lead once again after 58 minutes, McSweeney centring from the left for young centre forward Billy Greulich to net from close range.
The second equaliser this time took just over a minute to arrive, with Airey racing into the Pools box before claiming his first-ever reserve goal with a calm finish.
The Northumbrian-born Academy player who turned 18 last Saturday had another goal to celebrate on 67 minutes, when he left was unmarked to head home LuaLua's corner towards the front post.
That seemed to knock some of the stuffing out of the visitors and substitute Samuel Adjei came close to extending Newcastle's lead with a curling effort that grazed the crossbar.
Pancrate was replaced in the closing stages of the game after having inevitably faded in the second half, given his lack of match fitness. The 29 year-old Frenchman had exploited the space afforded to him down the flank, supplying a couple of astute passes and coming close with one shot on goal.
The argument that signing him up would stifle the emergence of a younger generation of players wasn't enhanced tonight though, neither Ryan Donaldson nor Frank Danquah catching the eye and Kazenga LuaLua in typically inconsistent mood.
While there was no sign of Marlon Harewood, Lovenkrands at least showed some willing and took the opportunity to get in much-needed match practice ahead of the first team's return to action next Monday.Biffa